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Max advocates Breaching Interntional Standards

“The Minister of Labour, Max Bradford’s claims of a “backroom deal” between the Labour Party and unions can only reflect the Minister’s wilful ignorance of international labour standards,” Trade Union Federation, President, Maxine Gay said today.

“The Labour Party’s policy is easy to explain in terms of international labour standards.
Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining makes it clear in Article 4 that “voluntary collective agreements” can only be negotiated between employers or employers’ organisations and workers’ organisations.

“The definition of a workers’ organisation in the convention the one that the Labour Party policy uses to define a union. Most importantly, they must be democratically organised and may not be under the domination of an employer or employers.

“What Mr Bradford is objecting to, of course, is the blocking of employers from imposing a bogus collective contract on vulnerable groups of workers who for one reason or another have no genuine collective organisation. This, rather than individual contracts, has become the favoured employer method with regard to low paid workers. Once locked into the employer’s collective contract the workers cannot take any industrial action. While they remain on individual contracts there is always the possibility they will become organised and seek a genuine agreement.

“The ILO convention simply rules that a collective agreement requires a collective decision and that in turn entails a collective organisation which is not under the domination of the employer.

“In this respect, as in many others in this area, the Employment Contracts Act is in breach of ILO Standards and has steadily and illegitimately destroyed workers’ bargaining power. This is despite the fact that New Zealand is bound, as a member of the ILO, to comply with these principles.

“Labour Party policy is actually a very modest step toward compliance with ILO Standards. We believe it should have to go a lot further and comply fully, particularly with regard to the requirement to promote collective bargaining. The measure which Mr Bradford complains of does no more than inhibit the imposition of bogus collective agreements on workers by employers.

“I shudder to think of the deals Mr Bradford has made with the Employers Federation which compel him to get up and defend this practice as if his life depended on it,” Ms Gay concluded

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